Thank you to everyone who has expressed support for changing Section 69 of The Holidays Act so that those who experience miscarriage are entitled to take bereavement leave. I have talked to a very supportive local MP who may submit this as a Members’ Bill.
Along with gathering your support, I’ve also reached out to organisations:
I will wait a few weeks to hear back from these organisations and will keep you in the loop. In the meantime if you would like to lend your support please get in touch or comment at the bottom of this post.
I have also written a letter for the publishers of The New Zealand Pregnancy Book asking for more information about miscarriage to be included in the upcoming new edition. Sands may also be interested in supporting the letter, which you can read here.
I’ve been trying to get some action on both of these issues since December. What I’ve learned is that the wheels of bureaucracy turn slowly – and that just when you think you’ve found the right person to talk to, they tell you that the right person to talk to is someone else!
I listened to a great Freakonomics podcast with Trevor Noah yesterday, in which he said that trying to make change when you're angry is not effective. It was a great reminder to take a deep breath and play the long game.
I’ve also discovered that even submitting a Members’ Bill is no guarantee that anything will change. The Bill might not ever get heard in Parliament. At the very least though, it may influence further changes to the Holidays Act in the future. Based on the advice I’ve received, submitting a Members’ Bill seems to be the best way to proceed. I think it’s worth a shot!
There are five brochures about HIV in my local medical centre. Every year around 200 people in NZ will be diagnosed with HIV.
There are no brochures about miscarriage in my local medical centre. Every year around 20,000 women in NZ will experience miscarriage.
When I saw the brochure stand at my local medical centre I got really mad. It's great that there is information available on HIV, pregnancy, prostate checks and all sorts of other things. But there seems to be a cone of silence around miscarriage.
Unfortunately I suffered a miscarriage late last year. As a result of my experience I realised there is very little medical information about miscarriage available to women in New Zealand. And having a miscarriage doesn't even count as a reason to be bereaved under our Holidays Act!
I would like to use the power of the pen to change these things - and you can help.
Amending the Holidays Act
I've spoken to a local MP about amending the Holidays Act. She has suggested putting this forward as a private member's bill. But first I need some more support from other people. Have a read over my letter here, and if you agree that people who have suffered miscarriage should be able to take bereavement leave, drop me a line or leave a comment below. I'll include your comment and your initials in my next letter.
Providing more information to women
I have a lot of thoughts around this, but one simple thing we can do is advocate for more miscarriage information to be included in the NZ Pregnancy Book, which is soon to be updated. Have a read of my letter here, and if you agree that the country's leading book on pregnancy should also include information about miscarriage (an event that only occurs in women who are, duh, pregnant), get in touch (or leave a comment below) and I will include your initials in the letter to the publisher.
This is going to be slow going. I'm doing this around work, writing, maintaining my cat's social media presence... and I'm soon going to be running a Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign for my children's book. But I will post updates as I go, and I'd love to have your support.
Thanks to everyone who gave me feedback on my last set of cover thumbnails. I played around with the layout sketches for my children's book cover some more, and i'm going to go with something that looks a little like the top left hand image. The final version will have a fair bit more detail than this quick sketch, but people seemed to respond well to the lonely little kitten staring up hopefully with his big eyes. If there's anything you'd particularly like to see in the cover, let me know!
I'm mocking up potential covers for my children's book, Bruce Finds A Home, which is based on the true story of how I found my famous cat. I'm going to whittle these down a bit more and hopefully a front-runner will emerge... Let me know if any of them are jumping out to you!
I've always had a soft spot for Winston Peters. Those dashing suits. That twinkle in his eye. So when he started saying vegetarian food labelling could be bad for our economy, I looked into it. And it turns out the opposite is true. You can read the full story on The Spinoff.
Sometimes (ok most days) I hear something on the radio or read something in the paper that makes me really cross. But the other day something made me so cross, I decided to do something about it. It was the beat-up over Ministry of Justice spending on staff development. I've worked in the public sector and I know how hard it is to do your job properly when you're under constant surveillance from social media warriors who don't always bother to dig into the issues before commenting. So I wrote this post about it... and it was published on The Spinoff! Super exciting for me... and I hope it gave some Ministry of Justice employees a smile.
2023 Burns fellow Kathryn van Beek has an MA from Victoria University Wellington - Te Herenga Waka’s International Institute of Modern Letters. She is a winner of the Mindfood Short Story Competition and the Headland Prize. Her collection of short stories, Pet, is available as a podcast, and her work has also appeared in Overland, takahē, Newsroom, and the Sunday Star-Times. She lives in UNESCO City of Literature Ōtepoti Dunedin with her two rescue cats.